12 Days of Kobe at Sushisamba

A meatier take on Christmas dining in London

Those who are already tired of the thought of turkey before the festive season has even got fully underway might look to the 12 Days of Kobe Christmas menu at London’s Sushisamba, curated by executive chef Claudio Cardoso (second picture). Promising a rare alternative to the traditional turkey or goose, Kobe beef is famous for its melt-in-the-mouth tenderness – but finding it outside its native Japan is not always easy.

Step up Sushisamba, which from Monday December 14 on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower in the City will roll out a menu over 12 days with a different Kobe beef dish each day – from Kobe ceviche, with blood orange, leche de tigre, pickled apple and watercress to a Kobe mini burger (first picture) with brioche, horseradish mayo and ají amarillo, and a Kobe “Land and Sea” interpretation with sea urchin, egg and kuromitsu. The truly haute selection is Kobe beef ishiyaki (£1,000 for 1kg). Those who prefer a liquid lunch can indulge in a Kobe cocktail – Yamazaki Japanese whisky treated to a wash of the highest-grade Kobe fat, before being stirred with maple and salted caramel and served over a block of ice.

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As gourmands will already know, Kobe beef is distinguished by the cattle’s strictly regulated rearing. The Tajima strain of wagyu cow, found in Japan’s Hyōgo prefecture (of which Kobe is the capital and the meat’s namesake), is said to be fed on beer, massaged with rice wine (to ensure the fat marbling that makes the meat so tender) and played classical music.

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While there is some doubt about the authenticity of these rearing techniques, what cannot be disputed is the delicious quality of the meat – and with only 3,000 or so cattle that make the grade for certification, and even fewer exported, the chance to try Kobe beef in London is one not to be missed. So for those who feel like trying pastures new, book now, for this is a chance that doesn’t come along that often.

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